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Monday, June 16, 2014, 19:00 - 21:30

The film will be followed by a Q&A with
director Ken Ochiai, stars Seizo Fukumoto and Chihiro Yamamoto

Monday, June 16 at 7 pmUzumasa Limelight52p
In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2013 103 minutes

Director: Ken Ochiai
Screenwriter: Hiroyuki Ono
Producers: Ko Mori, Hiroyuki Ono, Shohei Sano
Starring: Seizo Fukumoto, Chihiro Yamamoto, Hirotaro Honda, Masashi Goda,
Asahi Kurizuka, Hisako Manda, Nenji Kobayashi, Hiroki Matsukata

Film courtesy of Eleven Arts            

No one dies quite as dramatically - or as frequently - as Kamiyama, the taciturn, aging stuntman at the heart of “Uzumasa Limelight.” Kamiyama (Fukumoto) is a “kirare-yaku,” a sword-fighting extra who has plied his artistry in Japan’s beloved chambara samurai film industry for 50 years. When the hero slices him with a sword, as will inevitably happen, Kamiyama’s eyes and mouth fly open in a deadly grimace, his back arches in a gravity-defying move, and finally, he thuds heavily to the ground.

In his twilight years, Kamiyama still has his brief moments in the limelight at Kyoto’s Uzumasa Studios, the Hollywood of Japan. But not for long: The TV series that has been his home for decades has just been canceled, and he winds up as a corpse in the new yakuza drama, lying in a pool of blood. Kamiyama gets a reprieve when he’s farmed out to the nearby samurai theme park, and begins schooling a female extra in swordplay. Satsuki (Yamamoto) proves to be an apt pupil. Before long, she’s the star of a glitzy, updated chambara TV series, featuring a pop star in the role of warlord Oda Nobunaga and a pathetic cast of extras who wield short green “swords” since computer-generated blades can be added in post-production.

You won’t be surprised at what comes next in “Uzumasa Limelight,” but the extraordinary (real-life) skills of its two leads is worth the price of admission alone. An elegy for Japan’s much-beloved period films and the unsung heroes of the genre, this is a timely reminder that every generation stands on the shoulders of giants.

Please join us for this sneak preview of “Uzumasa Limelight” before the film’s theatrical release in Japan begins on July 14.

For more (in Japanese):

Director KEN OCHIAI made his first film at age 12, and left for the US following high school to pursue his filmmaking dreams. He graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and the American Film Institute, making over 30 short films and picking up awards from the Directors Guild of America and the Sapporo Short Fest. His first feature, “Tiger Mask,” was produced by Toshiaki Nakazawa, who produced the Oscar-winning “Departures,” and was released last fall. For “Uzumasa Limelight,” Ochiai worked with a US-based production company and cinematographer Chris Freilich.

Legendary sword-fighting actor SEIZO FUKUMOTO began his career at Toei Studios Kyoto at the age of 15 in 1958, and soon perfected his specialty as the “kirare-yaku” character, whose job is to be slashed by a sword and die onscreen. In his hundreds of appearances on TV and film, he has played a range of roles and worked with many directors of note, appearing in such recent films as “Red Shadow: Akakage” (2001), “The Last Ronin” (2010) and “Memories Corner” (2011). Fukumoto came to international attention as the Silent Samurai in 2003’s “The Last Samurai,” for which he received a Special Award from the Japan Academy in 2004.

World champion Wushu artist CHIHIRO YAMAMOTO began learning Tai chi when she was 3 years old. In 2012, she won a gold medal for sojutsu (spear work), a silver medal for Kenjutsu (sword work) and a silver medal for Chang quan (martial arts) at the World Wushu Championships. She earlier won gold medals in all three sports at the 2010, 2011 and 2012 JOC Junior Olympic Cups, as well as gold (Sojutsu) and silver (Chang quan) at the 2008 World Wushu Championships. “Uzumasa Limelight” marks her film debut.Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority.

Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. All movie screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.         

Karen Severns, Movie Committee

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